PHOTOS: Nearly 30,000 people cross Coney Island finish line at RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon

finish line at Brooklyn Half Marathon
30,000 people participated in the annual RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday, May 18.
Photo by Erica Price

Nearly 30,000 people crossed the finish line at the RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon in Coney Island on Saturday morning afternoon after pounding the Kings County pavement for 13.1 miles.

With a grand total of 28,000 runners, this year’s RBC Brooklyn Half was the largest in the event’s 40-year history, according to the New York Road Runners — and was the largest half marathon in the country. 

people running on boardwalk at Brooklyn Half Marathon
A crowd of runners approaching the finish line on the boardwalk in Coney Island. Photo by Erica Price
woman holding sign at brooklyn half marathon
A spectator cheered on runners near the finish line. Photo by Erica Price

Thousands of spectators lined the streets of Brooklyn during the race, cheering on friends, loved ones, and total strangers as they headed for victory. The course started beside the iconic Brooklyn Museum, looped through Prospect Park, then brought runners down a long stretch of Ocean Parkway before ending on the Coney Island boardwalk next to the cool relief of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Two Brooklynites pulled ahead of the crowd to win their respective divisions: Ryan Cutter won the men’s race with a time of just 1:04:09, and his fellow Brooklyn Track Club member S.C. Ferral won the non-binary division at 1:14:09. 

runner passing the cyclone
The course took runners right past the Cyclone and onto the boardwalk. Photo by Erica Price
family at marathon together
Some runners held hands as they approached the end. Photo by Erica Price

Other locals took to the streets too: Mandy Kwan, a Marine Park mom who got her whole family into running, finished the race with her mother – and cheered her two kids on at the Boardwalk Kids Run near the finish line.

But some runners traveled from far away to participate in the half marathon. Jennifer Ducharme traveled all the way from her home in Pennsylvania to run on behalf of Team Allied Services, which supports adults and children with disabilities and chronic illnesses in Pennsylvania.

jennifer ducharme at finish line for Brooklyn Half Marathon
Jennifer Ducharme crossed the finish line more than four hours after she started the race. Photo by Erica Price

Ducharme has run the TCS New York City Marathon three times, and finished the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon in March — each time running to raise money for Team Allied Services. But despite her collection of medals, Ducharme said she doesn’t much enjoy running.

“I’m just not a great runner or a fast runner, so to speak,” she said. “But because I tend to do it for the charity component, that gives me a reason to push through it. It’s kind of my ‘why.’ It’s both a personal challenge and a way to give back to the community.”

woman celebrating after finishing brooklyn half marathon
Ducharme celebrated after she finished the race. Photo by Erica Price

This race was particularly hard both physically and mentally for Ducharme. She’s been pushing through an undiagnosed foot injury, she said, and found herself in too much pain to keep running after about eight miles.

“Doing a race can always be tiring, but I really found this time that it’s a lot different to push through tired than it is to push through the pain part of it,” she said.

She was committed to finishing the race, even at a walk. Two Road Runners volunteers named April and Heather caught up with her and offered to walk the rest of the way if she wanted — an offer she gratefully accepted. And Ducharme’s friend Mindy, who traveled with her from Pennsylvania, walked north from where she was waiting in Coney Island to join her on the course.

“I always go in with the mindset that no matter what happens, I’m never getting on a sweep bus, I’m going to get to the end, it doesn’t matter how long it takes me, I’m going to get there,” Ducharme said. “This time … I almost faltered. There were moments I didn’t think I was going to make it because even walking was very painful. But the three of them really carried me along, so to speak.”

medals at brooklyn half marathon
Runners collected their medals at the end of the race. Photo by Erica Price
woman after running brooklyn half marathon
Queens resident Stacey celebrated her win at Maimonides Park after the race. Photo by Erica Price

When they rounded the corner onto the boardwalk, people started cheering, she said, even fellow runners already wearing their medals who had stuck around to support her after they finished their own races. She crossed the finish line about four hours and 43 minutes after she started the race. 

“People started cheering, which was incredible, and I started ugly crying,” she said. “To be able to have that celebration with all of those people there … and then we stayed, and we had a Nathan’s hot dog, and we sat by the beach. It made it really, really special.”

man in hotdog outfit at Brooklyn Half Marathon
For Gage (center, hot dog) Saturday’s race was his first Brooklyn Half Marathon. Photo by Erica Price
runners stretching after Brooklyn Half Marathon
Runners sat down and stretched out after the race. Photo by Erica Price

For past races, Ducharme has stayed in Manhattan, she said. But this time, she and her friend spend a few days before the race hanging out in Brooklyn — and “fell in love” with the borough.

After an appointment to finally get her foot treated, Ducharme will be back in the city in November for the TCS New York City Marathon, and said she’s looking forward to it even after a particularly hard race on Saturday.

A runner stopped to catch their breath after crossing the finish line.Photo by Erica Price
people on beach after brooklyn half marathon
Participants enjoyed a hard-earned snack on the beach after the run. Photo by Erica Price

“There’s something about the camaraderie — I come back every time and I say ‘New Yorkers are incredible,'” she said. “If you ever want to restore your faith in humanity, all you need to do is run a race in New York City. The way that people cheer you on and keep you going through the tough times is really, really special.”

Correction 5/21/24, 9:24 a.m.: This story previously said Ryan Cutter and S.C. Ferral were part of the Prospect Park Track Club, rather than the Brooklyn Track Club. We regret the error.